Reviewby Carl Kimlinger,
UFO Ultramaiden Valkyrie 3
DVD 1 - Sacred Stones & Perky Pervert
Having gotten back to living their (sort-of) normal lives, Kazuto, Valkyrie and the gang are visited by a series of Valhallan princesses. First of all is Pharm, a bespectacled educator who immediately sets about transforming all of the girls in school into glasses-wearing love sl- er, cultists. Then Inarba visits, wreaking her own brand of justice on anyone who dares to act shamefully, in an attempt to teach the Tokino household to act in a manner befitting royalty. Her reason? The royal house has grown weary of waiting for Valkyrie's marriage and has decided to press the issue, wedding her to Kazuto even if only in name (she is still a five-year-old child). The duo has three months to prepare, and then the ceremony's on. What does that have to do with Ms. Sanada stripping down, playing superhero dress-up, and wreaking havoc? Does it really matter?
After pissing away the second season trying to transform the series into a romantic drama, UFO Ultramaiden Valkyrie gets back to doing what it does best: brainless fan-service comedy of reassuring emptiness. There's no possibility at all of any of that character growth or emotional involvement nastiness—this is truly effortless entertainment. It's even funny on occasion. The writers have fun using Pharm's glasses fetish as an all-too-obvious metaphor for her sexuality, and as always Ms. Sanada's extreme behavior is good for a chuckle or two. Beware though, there are a few little moments of actual depth here and there (revolving around Akina's reaction to Kazuto's impending marriage), though not enough to actually force you to feel anything much. Yes, truly an oasis of effortless entertainment.
Of course, in a series that places a premium on maintaining the status quo, even the bad things stay the same. And Valkyrie has a veritable mountain of them, making it one piece of mindless fluff that is best enjoyed by a specific kind of person. Someone who isn't bothered by creepy subtexts (Kazuto and little Valkyrie's undefined relationship being the primary one). Someone who likes fan service enough that it doesn't bother them that the same exact fan-service sequences are used in virtually every episode. Someone who doesn't find little Valkyrie's needlessly explicit transformation into big Valkyrie hair-raisingly unpleasant. Someone who doesn't mind their intelligence being insulted on a regular basis (not thinking is actually a requirement for enjoying the show). Someone who doesn't mind how often the show tries to pass off painfully unfunny comic mayhem and silliness as humor. Someone who is most probably already a fan of the show.
There are elements in this incarnation of the series that even those lacking in the all-important attributes above can enjoy, most of them involving the series' light humor, particularly the various mental tortures that Inarba uses to punish wrongdoers (the mere thought of an army of Choruses is enough to drive sane men mad). Even these bits, however, are predicated on viewers' presumed knowledge of the earlier seasons. Other highlights include a general lack of Chorus, and the tongue-in-cheek casting of Kikuko Inoue as resident Belldandy rip-off Inarba.
This third season is actually a six-part OVA, so one might be forgiven for expecting superior production values. No such luck. If there was an increase in budget, then the lack of any significant action keeps it from showing. Animation is merely adequate (except where bouncing busts are concerned), and as always the show repeats large stretches of animation (transformation sequence after transformation sequence). The art is still far superior to the animation, with several incongruously atmospheric settings and attractive albeit generic characters. The one change from the series' television run is an increase in the fan-service factor, especially during Ms. Sanada's third episode stint as a superhero.
The in-show music is unchanged: light, occasionally fun, totally unremarkable. The ending theme is a bit of fluff sung by the voice actresses for the three newly (or soon-to-be) introduced princesses, while the opening is fairly peppy number sung in a reasonable imitation of Ritsuko Okazaki's style.
Much like the two seasons that preceded it, this third season's dub is a mixed bag. Some of the minor characters are painful to listen to, most of the main cast is competent, and big Valkyrie is decidedly superior to her Japanese counterpart. The new additions to the cast—Pharm and Inarba—fall into the “competent” camp.
This volume's two extras of note are three hand-written messages from the voice actors (the English VA's for the leads), and the usual Valkyrie World Notes which explain some of the series' many cultural references and contain comments on production and content by original creators Kaishaku.
There are series' whose success is inexplicable, but Valkyrie isn't one of them. It's obviously a reassuring escapist respite for people who fit the theoretical profile set out earlier. This season works well enough on that front, but effortless entertainment always leaves its audience empty, and adding new fetishes (glasses-girls and yuri) isn't going to change that. It's a fact made painfully obvious when the strongest reaction that the series elicits is the overwhelming sadness felt during the insert song “Agapé” upon realizing that this is likely the last anime to ever be graced by the late Ritsuko Okazaki's crystalline voice.
Overall (dub) : C+
Overall (sub) : C+
Story : D
Animation : C
Art : B
Music : C+
+ A blessed return to light humor.
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